Articles are reproduced with thanks from the Archdiocesan website, unless otherwise stated.


27 November 2015

OPENING STATEMENT given by ACBC Public Policy Director, Jeremy Stuparich, to a public hearing of the Australian Parliament's Human Rights Subcommittee inquiry on Australian advocacy for abolition of the death penalty on 27 November 2015.

I appreciate the invitation from the Committee to speak with you today about efforts to end the death penalty internationally. Australia's Catholic bishops oppose the death penalty and want to see it abolished everywhere.

The bishops welcome the Committee’s inquiry in this area because they want to understand how they can more effectively contribute to the goal of ending capital punishment worldwide.

The death penalty can in Australia be seen as an issue remote from our lives, but earlier this year, the bishops were active not only in lobbying for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran but also importantly in prayer vigils on their behalf. The executions of these two young men reminded Australians of the pain and sadness that accompanies all judicial killings around the globe.

23 November 2015

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’s Truth Justice and Healing Council has released guidelines for how Church authorities should respond when claims of child sexual abuse are made against them.

The guidelines, which have been endorsed by the Church leadership, will come into effect from 1 January 2016 and are designed to promote justice and consistency in the way the Church handles child sexual abuse claims and conduct litigation when taken to court.

They also include a requirement for Church dioceses or religious orders to assist a claimant to identify the correct defendant to respond to legal proceedings.

The CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, said the community expects the Catholic Church to have a compassionate and consistent approach towards survivors of child sexual abuse, including when they take legal action.

‘These guidelines provide a framework for Church authorities to do the right thing in court and ease the trauma of litigation for survivors,’ he said.

13 November 2015

Media and Communications Office/ABC News

VICTORIA'S UPPER HOUSE has passed legislation to legalise adoption by same-sex couples, but with an exemption for faith-based adoption services.

The bill will now need to go back to the Lower House for approval.

Members of the Opposition were given a free vote on the bill, apart from the religious exemption amendment, which they were compelled to oppose.

In debating the bill Liberal MP Bernie Finn said his first priority was the rights of children.

‘I am not convinced that same-sex adoption is in the best interests of children ... that is not to say that many same-sex couples are not superb parents,’ he said.

Friday 30 October 2015 Catholic News Service

China's Communist Party leaders have announced they are changing the nation's one-child policy.

The Communist Party's Central Committee in Beijing now says it will allow all couples to have two children.

The Chinese government imposed its one-child policy in 1979 to curb the growth of the population that, at that time, was reaching 972 million people. The policy most strictly applied to Han Chinese, but not to ethnic minorities around China. Han families in rural areas could apply to have a second child if the first child was a girl. In areas where the policy was enforced, parents could lose their jobs for having more than one child. Sometimes the second or third child was penalized and could not be registered, so he or she could not go to school.

The one-child policy often was enforced at the provincial level, and enforcement varied. In a 2007 interview with Catholic News Service, Jean-Paul Wiest, research director of The Beijing Center for Chinese Studies, said some provinces provided that if each spouse was a single child, the couple could have two children. How much the policy was followed also depended on local officials, Wiest said. For instance, in some strong Christian areas, the village's chief official might be Catholic, so the policy might not be enforced.

22 October 2015

Australia's Catholic Bishops have condemned victimisation of women in detention and offered the Church's support to help Somali refugee Abyan who was said to be a victim of rape and sexual assault. Bishop Vincent Long, Bishops Delegate for Migrants and himself a refugee, made the offer of support on behalf of the Church today.

‘The Church wants to offer trauma-related counselling and practical support to Abyan, to help her feel supported during and after her pregnancy, and to other women who find themselves in the same horrific situation,’ Bishop Long said.

‘Given Abyan was raped and that it was Australia who released her into the community in Nauru, we have a duty to provide her the appropriate services and care in Australia.

16 October 2015

At Australian Catholic University in Fitzroy on 15 October, Melbourne’s Archbishop Denis Hart conferred the papal honour of Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory the Great upon Melbourne lawyer Paul Hoy.

In a ceremony at the Fitzroy campus of ACU, Archbishop Hart praised Mr. Hoy for his extraordinary work for and commitment to the Archdiocese of Melbourne over 25 years, as adviser to the Archdiocese on constitutional and taxation matters, as well as being instrumental in establishing remuneration and retirement foundations for priests.

Additional praise came from Archbishop Hart for Mr. Hoy’s enduring work for the Australian Catholic University itself.

Paul was part of the original group negotiating with the Minister of Education for the establishment of the University.

15 October 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Democracy and religious freedom was put under the microscope when Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP delivered the Annual Acton Lecture on Religion and Freedom to a sold-out audience at the Centre for Independent Studies.

The Archbishop's lecture was titled: Should Bakers be Required to Bake Gay Wedding Cakes? The State of Our Democracy and of Religious Liberty in Contemporary Australia.

Democracies ignore religions at their peril the Archbishop said saying true democracies acknowledge moral and religious convictions while at the same time allowing the expression of differences. The Archbishop used the issue of same-sex "marriage" in the US adding Australia would be wise to avoid such "secular tyranny".

After briefly transporting the audience to a hypothetical 2025 when all discussions of marriage being a heterosexual union are either prohibited by law or polite society, the Archbishop spoke about Pope Francis' call to a visionary, practical and principled statecraft for our contemporary democracies, and a politics which is person-centred.

9 October 2015

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese

Trials of the Cashless Welfare Card are set to begin in Ceduna, SA and other regional, remote and city communities from March next year. Under the Federal Government plan and based on a suggestion of WA mining billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest, 80 percent of welfare payments will be cashless and only available via an electronic debit card that cannot be used for alcohol or gambling.

Unlike the income management Basics Card where up to 50% of welfare payments are restricted, the Cashless Welfare Card would limit cash to just 20% of welfare payments and would affect all Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women across Australia who are currently receiving welfare benefits, including single parents, the unemployed, carers and people with a disability, with the exception of veterans and those on the aged pension.

The Government claims that by quarantining payments to welfare recipients, the abuse of alcohol, gambling and drugs would be reduced, which in turn would help improve health, prevent many episodes of domestic violence and help encourage family stability and wellbeing.

Although the start of the trial in Ceduna is more than five months away, with further trials planned in SA, the Kimberley, Cape York as well as disadvantaged urban areas such as Bankstown in Sydney, Rockhampton and Logan in Qld, Greater Shepparton in Victoria and suburbs of Perth, there is already deep concern and consternation.

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